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Drill Hall plans hit a Grade II snag

PUBLISHED: 11:18 30 April 2010 | UPDATED: 17:37 30 June 2010

PLANNERS at Norfolk County Council have been forced to take a step back over plans to close Great Yarmouth's Drill Hall after discovering the building is Grade II listed.

PLANNERS at Norfolk County Council have been forced to take a step back over plans to close Great Yarmouth's Drill Hall after discovering the building is Grade II listed.

The status, confirmed by conservation organisation English Heritage, places restrictions on the re-development of buildings and has meant the county council has had to step back from its planned closure of the York Road hall to examine its implications.

Council officers had been due to meet representatives of some of the hall's user groups yesterday to explain its decision to close the facility, but this has now been put back three or four weeks to give the council time to mull over the listing.

The council wants to cut its subsidy for the hall because it is coming from its children's services budget to pay for a leisure facility and it wants the cash to pay solely for youth facilities.

If the proposal goes ahead, the hall will shut its doors for the final time in April 2011, while in the meantime users have to pay increased hourly hire charges from £5 to £18.50.

However, the decision has angered sports groups using the hall, who say money has been wasted on maintenance work and cleaning staff.

Mark Westgate, who runs a ladies basketball team at the hall, was one of the users angered by the closure and said his group could not afford to use alternative facilities at the Marina Centre on Yarmouth seafront.

He said the hall was the oldest working drill hall in the UK, adding: “Now that the council knows the building's listed they need to determine which parts can be re-developed and which can not be touched.”

County council spokesman Susie Lockwood said county council officers and county councillors had met the Drill Hall users a number of times in recent months to review hiring charges and consider future options for the building.

She added: “A further meeting had been planned for this week but we have postponed this meeting because in the last week we have received notification from English Heritage that the building has been designated Grade II listed.

“Listing has significant implications for a building's owners, and we need to consider in detail how listing will affect the Drill Hall.

The user groups have been told the meeting will be rescheduled to take place within the next three weeks.


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